[apologies for uploading all of this after a week – there was no wireless in the hostel in Phuket though the internet was OK for email]
Phuket is an island off the west coast of Thailand and its beaches were affected by the Tsunami all those months ago. To look at it, you’d never guess – aside from the brand new “Tsunami Escape Route” road signs, which very informatively point you in the opposite direction from the sea front. Just in case you couldn’t figure that much out. Yes, folks – run away from the big wall of water.
This is the only island with a bridge connection to the mainland and as a result is almost as busy trafficwise as anywhere else in Thailand. This means endless shouts of “Hey, mister! Tuk-tuk? Taxi? Where you go?”. This afternoon I had just stepped off a minibus when someone literally accosted me and asked where I was going. If I hadn’t been so tired I’d have tried to barter a fare to my hostel – about 10 yards from where I was stood.
The hostel is great and is the one recommended to me by Prashant (thank you!). It’s exceedingly clean, the staff friendly and the people here have been a great bunch to meet and spend time with. I got in rather late on Tuesday night. My flight from Bangkok had been cancelled, and Air Asia couldn’t get hold of me as the only phone number I’d given them was for my parents. However, though I was happy to wait 90 minutes or so for the next flight, they managed to book me on an alternative with a different company. Very nice of them! I don’t think the plane was of the standard of the one I would have been on (and the snack was just some rather dodgy peanuts) but what they hey – saved me some time.
A minibus from the airport was a bargain 100Baht and I got settled in here quite quickly. Two Kiwis were busy playing biology class with a dead cockroach on an electric tennis racquet (seriously) and we decided to hop off out and get a few beers. The only problem was that as a result of the next day’s election there was a freeze on alcohol sales. Argh.
This time, a tuk-tuk driver came to our rescue. For 150Baht (massively overpriced for the distance, but hey – he did us a favour) he took us to a nice restaurant which sold beer. I had deep fried chicken nuggets and some fantastic chips… and beer. Much beer. Whether due to the alcohol ban or whether this is normal for the place we were at, the beer was served out of large silver teapots! Every time a glass got past a third empty, one of the waitesses (dressed as schoolgirls, naturally) popped over and refilled it.
The bill wasn’t cheap, but then we had no idea how much we’d drunk. Aside from “a lot”. And the food was good. We walked back in about 15 minutes – the tuk-tuk driver had taken us a very roundabout route to make the fare seem worthwhile.